Birth certificate and testimonial of birth: what difference?

Un chef de quartier remplit des registres d’état-civil à partir des procurations qu’il a établi auprès des familles de leur quartier.

During the month of August 2018, children of Kinshasa sensitized families on the importance of registering their children at the registry. When children speak, they can do the sensitization differently, by using simple language.

Be careful not to confuse the two documents

This sensitization is of the utmost importance since it reminds parents of their obligation towards their children. During this sensitization, I noticed that many parents were mistaking the testimonial of birth for the birth certificate.

Thanks to the debriefing received before going to the field, we explained to parents that these two documents were quite different. The testimonial of birth is a document that proves the birth of a child and on which one can find the contact details of the parents and the name of the hospital. The birth certificate on the other hand is a document that proves the affiliation of an individual to a family and a nation.

Many parents do not know the difference between these two documents. Due to this confusion, some parents neglect their obligations and do not register the birth at the registry. They are content with the testimonial of birth, issued by the hospital where the child is born. Yet, the birth certificate is essential and free: parents have 90 days following the birth to get to the registry.

We met many families having a baby less than 90 days old, we call on our supervisor to obtain the authorization of parents in order to register the baby at the registry. This was not part of our mission but why let such a good opportunity slip away? Actually, when a child is not yet 90 days old, its registration at the registry is free and parents do not pay anything.

For each child, a birth certificate

In the Democratic Republic of Congo, only 1 child over 4 is registered at the registry even though each child has the right to get his/her birth certificate as stated by article 7 of the international Convention on the Rights of the Child. Registration of the child at the registry is a legal obligation.

Thanks to our sensitization, many parents have realized the importance of the registration of children. Parents have understood that the birth certificate ensures some protection for children.

If such sensitizations are organized throughout the school vacation, just as we did during the long vacation, we can help increase the number of registered children at the registry. Instead of only playing, having fun or watching tele during the vacation, we can participate in civic duties in the interest of children.

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Translated from French by Adjah Benedict

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Kelly est une Enfant Reporter âgée de 16 ans de la Ville-Province de Kinshasa.

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